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Abstract

We present two alternative sets of global palaeogeographical reconstructions for the time interval 615–530 Ma using competing high and low-latitude palaeomagnetic data subsets for Laurentia in conjunction with geological data. Both models demonstrate a genetic relationship between the collisional events associated with the assembly of Gondwana and the extensional events related to the opening of the Tornquist Sea, the eastern Iapetus Ocean (600–550 Ma), and the western Iapetus Ocean (after 550 Ma), forming a three-arm rift between Laurentia, Baltica, and Gondwana. The extensional events are probably plume-related, which is indicated in the reconstructions by voluminous mafic magmatism along the margins of palaeo-continents. The low-latitude model requires a single plume event, whereas the high-latitude model needs at least three discrete plumes. Coeval collisions of large continental masses during the assembly of Gondwana, as well as slab pull from subduction zones associated with those collisions, could have caused upper plate extension resulting in the rifted arm that developed into the eastern Iapetus Ocean and Tornquist Sea but retarded development of the western Iapetus Ocean. As a result, the eastern Iapetus Ocean and the Tornquist Sea opened before the western Iapetus Ocean.

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